BY PHILIP WHEELER
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department has begun issuing free Senior Medical Cards and Child Identification Cards to the young and old around Ottawa County. These tags are invaluable in cases of injury or illness, or to identify a missing child.
Each card for a senior has a picture of the individual, a thumbprint, and information pertaining to medical conditions or medications, as well as a number to call in case of emergency. Seniors of any age are eligible to receive an ID card.
Detective Joe Leroux of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department will be issuing the free cards to seniors attending an upcoming Crime Watch meeting on Thursday, March 5 at the Bay Township Volunteer Fire Department, 4471 W. Fremont Rd. (Route 53), Port Clinton.
The Crime Watch crew will also host a free buffett at 6 p.m., and a talk on identity theft by a representative of Croghan Colonial Bank.
The Child ID Cards issued by the sheriff’s department contain a picture, a thumbprint, and the child’s full name, age, weight and an emergency contact. If a child is missing, law enforcement authorities can use the child’s ID card to scan the child’s fingerprints into the National Crime Information Center database.
According to the Department of Justice, approximately 797,500 children are reported missing each year, and it is estimated that 34 percent of American parents wouldn’t be able to accurately describe their child to law enforcement; including details of exact height and weight and the child’s eye color. Child ID cards answer these basic questions.
These programs are designed to help keep the seniors and children of Ottawa County safe. The Law Enforcement Awareness Program for Seniors (L.E.A.P.S.) provides both the Senior and Child Fingerprint ID cards free of charge at special events such as the Ottawa County Fair, safety fairs, and other local events.
Detective Joe Leroux is in charge of the program. He is a Master Criminal Investigator for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. Applicants for that designation must complete a core training program of 128 hours and an additional 64 hours of elective courses, for a total of 192 hours.
“The courses are intended to strengthen an investigator’s knowledge, skills and abilities for conducting a variety of criminal investigations,” said Leroux.
“In the event of a missing persons incident or medical emergency, these identification cards can provide first responders with important information such as medical conditions and medications along with a picture and thumbprint. This could significantly reduce response times during emergencies.”
The sheriff’s department will again be issuing the identity cards on March 13 at 2 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Public Library. There will also be a presentation about choosing a financial caregiver and choosing a responsive caregiver.
For more information, contact Detective Leroux at 419-734-6843. To schedule the issuance of ID cards to large groups of children or seniors contact Deputy Heather Moss at 419-734-6823 to receive the consent forms that need to first be completed before the cards are issued.